Published: August 31, 2015

Harry Barnes Grantee report from a first-time AAO-HNSF Leadership Forum attendee

I had the privilege of attending the 2015 AAO-HNS Leadership Forum March 14-16. I received the Harry Barnes Endowment travel grant to attend the conference. To apply for the grant, I wrote an essay detailing the best way to promote diversity in our Academy.

Ceisha Ukatu, MDCeisha Ukatu, MD

By Ceisha Ukatu, MD, otolaryngology-head and neck surgery resident, University of Missouri-Columbia

I had the privilege of attending the 2015 AAO-HNS Leadership Forum March 14-16. I received the Harry Barnes Endowment travel grant to attend the conference. To apply for the grant, I wrote an essay detailing the best way to promote diversity in our Academy. I do think there are many ways that we can achieve this and we have numerous strides to make. However, at the leadership forum, I experienced diversity in every sense of the word. There were otolaryngologists from the all areas of the country, young and old, private practice physicians and academicians. There were leaders in our field and new residents, black and white, male and female. We discussed everything from mentorship and quality improvement to negotiating contracts and the Sustainable Growth Rate.

To say the least, I was pleased with the entire experience. In March, I was a first-year resident and it was my first Academy conference. I can only imagine the excitement I will encounter at the Annual Meeting in September. It was pleasing to learn so much about our field, including triumphs, struggles, and expectations for the future. There were many topics that impacted how I will face the next four years of residency as well as the entirety of my future career.

For example, Christine B. Franzese, MD, shared her insight about the importance of academic general otolaryngologists. Despite my interest in academic medicine and general otolaryngology, I never saw this as a viable option until I listened to her discuss her successful and rewarding practice. Another concise and compelling talk from Mona M. Abaza, MD, highlighted the topic of mentorship in a new and unexpected way. She not only emphasized finding a mentor, but she also expressed differences between a mentor, sponsor, and life coach, and when you might need one versus the other. This spin on the topic made it more useful than talks on mentorship I have attended in the past.

While I was pleased with the conference, I will admit that I felt overwhelmed at times. There is so much going on behind the scenes that enables our Academy to run as smoothly and effectively as it does. In a way, I felt like a little fish in a big pond. There are many avenues to take in terms of getting involved and making a difference in our field. Deciding where to start can be scary. One of the best messages I took from the conference was from Samantha Anne, MD. She encouraged everyone in attendance to “just show up.” It can be in a small or a big way. The importance lies in choosing to do something—anything—and just doing it. She told a story of how she applied to committees for four years in a row and was denied each time. Eventually, she was encouraged to attend committee meetings in which she was interested. She then began to volunteer and do cherished work for the committee. Currently, she serves as the chair of the Young Physicians Section. This is truly inspiring to me, given the confidence it took for Dr. Anne to “just show up” despite the multiple times she was rejected. She then took advantage of her opportunity and rose to a leadership role. Her example is one that we all can learn from.

With that said, I encourage all of us to “just show up” this year for our Academy. For me this means contacting my congressmen and women about important legislation. I have already done this with SGR reform and the audiology “physician status” legislation. Contacting legislators is something all of us can easily do. The BOG Legislative Affairs committee is constantly thinking of new and simple ways to get our Members involved in these efforts. Secondly, I will start donating to the ENT PAC. At the conference we discussed how important this is in determining our society’s legislative clout. Legislators and government officials look at the percentage of Academy Members that donate to the ENT PAC to determine how active and involved the society Members are. Additionally, these donations help pave the way for candidates that support legislation in our best interest. The last goal I have for involvement this year is to become active in a committee. This takes a bit more time and effort but seems like it can be a very rewarding experience.

I realize that these may be small steps, but at the conference I learned that small is enough. If each one of us takes one or two small steps, it strengthens our academy and increases the value of our membership.

Thank you to the Diversity Committee for awarding me the Harry Barnes travel grant. I likely would not have attended the leadership conference without it. Obtaining such beneficial information at the onset of my career was invaluable for me.


More from September 2015 - Vol. 34 No. 08

Products from the new AcademyU® Learning Platform
Foundation copublishes two books with Thieme As part of an ongoing agreement with Thieme Publishers, the Foundation has just added two more titles to its book and eBook collection. The first book, Otolaryngology Lifelong Learning Manual (OLLM), is an update to the Maintenance Manual for Lifelong Learning. Through the hard work of the eight education committees, under the leadership of Education Coordinator Sonya Malekzadeh, MD, this will become a valuable resource for all otolaryngology clinicians. OLLM serves as a great resident resource and certification study guide. Practicing physicians can use it for a refresher on a topic and for recertification through MOC. Nonphysician clinicians will also benefit from the comprehensive scope of the book. The second book, Geriatric Otolaryngology, was edited by Robert T. Sataloff, MD, Michael M. Johns III, MD, and Karen Kost, MD. This book is much more than a revision to the previous book of the same title. It is a comprehensive and timely discussion of the otolaryngology concerns of the elderly population. Both books are available in print and eBook formats and can be ordered through the Thieme website at You can search by specialty or title. The AAO-HNS Foundation is proud to have worked with Thieme on these two essential otolaryngology publications and looks forward to continuing its copublishing partnership. AcademyQ® CME: otolaryngology knowledge self-assessment tool AcademyQ® CME offers learners the opportunity to hone their knowledge skills through a series of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery-specific self-assessment questions. Derived from the 800 knowledge assessment questions available in the AcademyQ® app for Apple and Android, this activity provides the opportunity to enhance knowledge of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery with hundreds of study questions to test recall, interpretation, and problem-solving skills while earning CME credit. Drawing on the same questions released on the Academy® app in 2012 and 2014, nine modules contain 50 questions specific to each specialty. The physician learner will read and analyze otolaryngology-specific questions and rationales developed by otolaryngology experts. Included in each module is thorough feedback for each question, additional reading references, and appropriate images and videos to enhance the learning experience. Pediatric Otolaryngology eLectures Pediatric Otolaryngology eLectures, coproduced by the American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology (ASPO) and AAO-HNSF, offer learners education opportunities designed to address pressing patient care concerns facing pediatric and general otolaryngologists. The webinars in this series are: Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis Diagnosis and Management of Vascular Malformations Update on Allergic Rhinitis—A Burdensome Disease Down Syndrome: Otolaryngologic Manifestations Evaluation and Management of Sialorrhea in Children Hearing Tests and Hearing Aids: More Interesting Than You Thought Complications of Acute Rhinosinusitis in Children Otitis Media Update Assessment and Management of Velopharyngeal Dysfunction Evaluation of Pediatric Sensorineural Hearing Loss Unilateral Hearing Loss In Children Caustic Ingestion Management of Pediatric Vocal Fold Immobility Head and Neck Masses in the Pediatric Population Quality and Safety in Surgery: How to Become a Better Surgeon Choking and Aspiration in Children: Evaluation and Management Pediatric Sleep Medicine 2014: A Roundtable Discussion Eustachian Tube and Evolution Social Media—A Blessing or a Curse for the Otolaryngologist Genetics and Pediatric Otolaryngology These archived recordings are be available for AMA PRA Category 1™ credit. ENT for the PA-C eLecture Series The annual ENT for the PA-C Conference is jointly presented by the American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery Foundation and the Society of Physician Assistants in Otorhinolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery. The primary audience for the conference is nonphysician clinicians, especially physician assistants, and nurse practitioners who specialize in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery. This eLecture Series, recorded at the 2015 ENT for the PA-C Annual Conference, includes the following presentations: Healthcare Reform Audiogram Interpretation: 10-minute Dizziness Evaluation Evaluation and Management of Facial Nerve Paralysis Everything You Ever (and Never) Need to Know About Salivary Glands Differential Diagnosis and Management of Conductive Hearing Loss Non-otologic Sources of Otalgia Diagnosis and Treatment of Anaphylaxis Evaluation and Management of Pediatric Neck Masses OSA: Improving Treatment Outcomes Vocal Fold Paralysis Diagnosis and Treatment Assisting in ENT Procedures These archived recordings will be available for AAPA CME credit. Visit for these new activities along with the entire catalog of education opportunities offered by the AAO-HNS Foundation.